Ahead of the Heathcote Wine and Food Festival, we take you on the wine trail to four of the region’s shining star cellar doors.
When I was first told of great wineries in Heathcote, my first thought was, “They have vineyards in the Shire?”
Hey, I was born in Wollongong so I’m pleading that, in this case, being an ignoramus from NSW is forgivable.
Anyway, situation now well and truly rectified. For those of you playing at home, in terms of wine regions, Heathcote is a spot only just receiving the attention and kudos it deserves for its top-notch vino and totally visit-worthy wineries.
It’s one part Aussie gold, one part prehistoric soil and sprinkled with flavours of the Mediterranean.
Just 35 minutes up the road from Bendigo and less than two hours drive from Melbourne, Heathcote is emerging on the world stage as a place of winemaking innovation, sustainability, and passion.
Now’s a particularly great time to go there. Even on a day trip. For sure. Here’s what you can do with only a short visit to this – seemingly – unassuming Victorian wine region.
Heathcote Wine Trail Highlights
Heathcote is a little place with a lot to offer. It’s easy to get where you want to go, and everything seems stress-free. It has a rich history – so many stories to tell. Discovering the human stories that make up the fabric of any location is a huge part of the attraction of travelling, so I’ll let you discover most for yourself and instead concentrate on the cellar doors.
Before you even get there, start with a lovely drive. If travelling from Bendigo way, I recommend heading along the Axedale/Toolleen Road. Pull over when you get to Chinamen’s bend for a selfie opportunity with a view of the vineyards in the background. (Named to commemorate a gentleman from the orient who met his untimely end there – check out the plaque on site for the full story).
Start with Silver Spoon Estate. This family-run affair has a lovely little cellar door that sits within their working winery. While you’re there, catch a glimpse at their winemaking process as well as at their 250acre property with views for days.
Apparently, Silver Spoon Estate is very committed to environmentally sustainable practices (as I hear many vineyards in the area are) and they operate ‘off-grid’.
So good are Silver Spoon’s grapes, they are also sold to other winemakers in the area and throughout Victoria – but luckily, not all. Head to the Silver Spoon Estate’s cellar door, open every weekend, and warm your glass with some shiraz, viognier, grenache, mourverde or tempranillo. One of their standouts is The Ensemble, a shiraz viognier. You can also get a rather sumptuous dessert wine in your belly – the 2016 Viognier, Cambrian Gold.
503 Heathcote-Rochester Road (C347), Mount Camel.
Eight minutes drive after leaving Silver Spoon Estate, you can find yourself at Sanguine Wines.
Upon arrival, you may be mistaken for thinking that you have died and arrived in winery heaven. I mean, it doesn’t get much more picture perfect than this place. Especially for city slickers, like me.
No surprise, shiraz is a big deal here. So big a deal in fact that 50 acres have been dedicated to shiraz and five acres to eight other varieties – chardonnay, viognier, petit verdot, merlot, cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, tempranillo and one variety that is unknown in Australia. (Definitely taste the shiraz – its reputation demands it!).
The cellar door is open weekends except for 7-8 October (during the Heathcote Wine & Food Festival).
Cellar Door – 77 Shurans Lane, Heathcote
Head on down the road another eight minutes and go knocking on the door of Heathcote Winery.
This is one of my favourite little buildings on the main street of Heathcote. It’s a restored miner’s produce store. Aussie as.
You probably won’t be shocked to learn that a tipple of shiraz at Heathcote Winery cellar door won’t go astray. On this particular day trip, if you’re hungry by now, make this the lunch stop. You can grab a little gourmet nosh and enjoy it in the courtyard to complement the shiraz goodness (or viognier or sauvignon blanc if you prefer). Heathcote Winery’s Mail Coach Shiraz and the Single vineyard Slaughterhouse Paddock Shiraz are the cool kids in town. This cellar door is open seven days.
183 – 185 High Street, Heathcote.
One more stop before you either head home (only an hour’s drive from here to Melbourne) or settle in.
Merindoc is highly awarded for both its cellar door and its food (if you didn’t dine at Heathcote Winery, definitely do it here). You can experience both the Merindoc food and wine on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Inspired by the wines of the Rhone Valley, the the Merindoc range is a combined offering from their two Heathcote Vineyards, the Merindoc Vineyard and the Willoughby Bridge Vineyard . One of the current favourites you should sample is the 2013 Willoughby Bridge Syrah Grenache.
If heading home at this point in the wine trail doesn’t appeal, book ahead because Merindoc has some gorgeous accommodation to host you while you put the car away, open a bottle and breath in that country air.
2905 Lancefield – Tooborac Road, Tooborac.
Planning your visit
They’re our picks this time but there is so much more to discover in Heathcote.
If your’re heading there 7-8 October, get a taste of everything Heathcote has to offer in one location at the Heathcote Wine and Food Festival.